Tuesday, August 27, 2013

one year ago : just when we thought it was getting easy...

A year ago we went camping in northern Minnesota with my family.  Above is a family pic snapped on the trip before we 'put in.' We were a family of three.  Oh, and my hair was the shortest it has ever been (and dark!)
ignore the overflowing laundry basket
A year ago our world centered around that little guy.  He was only one-year-old.  A really great walker, but he barely said a word then - something I cannot even imagine now.   Now will repeat pretty much anything you say, no matter how long the sentence.  (Scary, right?)

A year ago Hubby and I were finally going out and "dating" again!  I had lost my baby weight and was feeling dang good!  I could enjoy adult beverages!  We finally felt comfortable with a (non-familial) babysitter.  And, no lie, we kind of thought we had this whole parenting thing down...
reds game with friends
A year ago we closed on our house and moved into "the dream home."
We were ready to tackle a whole slew of major renovation projects! 

A month later - pregnant!

See what happens when you think you got it all under control?

God says, "Yeah.You still need me." 

And how!

+ + + + + + 

Tonight we head off to Minnesota again.
Now a family of four,  and so thankful for our beautiful baby girl!
birth control packed and reminder alarm set.

Friday, August 23, 2013

mama confessions : breast vs. bottle {my breastfeeding story}

Let's talk feeding.  

I currently breastfeed.  Nearly exclusively.   Women breastfeed for many reasons.  My reason is not because I firmly believe breast milk is more beneficial for babies.  It is not because we can't afford formula...even though I love being thrifty. It is not because I think there is a stronger bond between mother and baby when breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding. It is not because I think it is more convenient - in fact, my personal experience is that it is messier and less convenient than bottles and formula.

I breastfeed for completely selfish reasons. I do it because I love the connected feeling I get with my baby.  We are literally physically connected, and I love the natural, organic feeling of that.  I love the feeling of the letdown.   I am in awe of the way our bodies have been created and the amazing things they do.  I love looking down at her and seeing that my body is providing her directly with nutrition that is specifically for her.  I love when she notices me watching her and makes eye contact and smiles.

So, you see, all these things bring me pleasure.  Sure, she is getting a lot out of it...but that is not my main reason.  I like what I get out of it.

My attitude even before I got pregnant the first time was that I would try my best to breastfeed as long I could.

With my first baby, my son, I had difficulty.   Oh, he latched just fine from the start and I never experienced any pain while feeding...but I don't think I quite understood how often he needed to feed.  What did I know?  I was a first-time mama who perhaps did not research breastfeeding as well as I could have.
cormac, a week old, after a feeding session 
When he would fuss an hour after I fed him I exclaim, "There is NO way he is hungry again already!"  So I would look for other ways to soothe him.  This created a hungry/frustrated baby and frustrated parents.  Then my milk supply obviously went down.  I really wasn't feeding him frequently enough.  I ignored his need to cluster-feed to boost my supply, and then when I did feed him he didn't get enough.   I figured we needed to supplement with formula.  When we supplemented I didn't pump to keep my supply going.  Another mistake. One bottle of formula a day turned into two, then three.  Then, at twelve weeks postpartum I went back to work and Cormac went all day on the bottle.  I tried to pump at work but my supply was so low by that point that I would pump for a half hour and get maybe 3 oz.  I was so frustrated and bored while pumping.  During my brief two weeks back at work Cormac fell in love with the bottle - he got a lot of milk at a time - and fast!  He was voracious!  Pretty soon he would only allow me to nurse him at night...when really it was just for comfort.   I would try to feed him during the day and by that point my milk would not let down fast enough for him.  He would scream at my breast, which made me sad and anxious, which made the letdown take longer.  Which made him scream harder and not even want to try.

Finally, at about three months, I gave up.  I felt defeated.  I felt depressed.  I felt like a complete failure.
Until my milk dried up and the hormones associated with breastfeeding left my body.

Then I felt GREAT!  I loved bottle-feeding.  I had a happier baby who ate less often and was more satisfied.  I could feed him on a schedule...and I LOVE schedules.  We could go on weekend trips and easily leave him with the grandparents.   I didn't have to mess with bulky nursing pads, ugly nursing bras, or nursing in public (which I have no problem doing, with a cover, but it was just kind of annoying.)
finally at peace with bottle-feeding (and happier!)
In the end, though I had enjoyed a lot about breastfeeding while it lasted, I was a happier mama bottle-feeding, with a happier baby.

+ + + + + + 

With baby number two I still wanted to breastfeed, for the same reasons mentioned above.  I did not make the same mistakes again and end breastfeeding earlier than desired.  So, when Finola was a newborn I fed her all the time.  She didn't even have to barely squeak and I put her to the breast.  Also, I did not give her any formula/bottles until she was a month old and I felt like my milk supply was well established.  Even then I was afraid I would jeopardize my milk, but there have been instances where I've had to leave the baby for longer than a couple hours and she needed to eat.  I wanted to make sure she had practice with a bottle and would take one if necessary.  When we do give her one, which is not often, she seems to do just fine.
after an on-the-go feeding session.
So, unlike last time, the breastfeeding has been going beautifully so far.

Maybe too well.

I'll be completely honest:  I dread weaning her off the breast, because I know how hard emotionally it is to let those hormones exit my system.  I'll be a wreck.  Also, Hubby and I want to take a long weekend trip to Chicago in a couple months, sans kiddos, and I am afraid to let her be bottle-fed for several days.  I am afraid I will be forced into a premature end.

In some ways, as bad as this will sound, I wish she would "decide for herself," like her brother did, to go to the bottle, rather than making me, her total wimp of a mama, decide to end our breastfeeding relationship.

I don't know if and when I will have the guts to...

...but when it happens I will, of course, share the rest of this story.  :)

+ + + + + + 

So what is your story?  It is National Breastfeeding Month and I post this only to share my own experience.  Everyone has their own story and opinions.  Mine is to do what makes you happiest as a mama.  Happy mamas are the best mamas.

Monday, August 19, 2013

finola - three months!

Dear Girl,
Happy three months!!!!!
You are getting so big!
You went to size two diapers.
You now wear 3-6 month clothes!
You finally (sort of) have eyebrows.
You smile a lot - and occasionally laugh - if I laugh.
You love to touch my face and hair and grab my nose.
Your nails grow really fast!!!
You poop only once a week.
You get really sweaty in the car seat...
therefore you are not a fan of car rides. 
You prefer the Baby Bjorn.
You love Ikea - so much to look at!
You love kisses, too.  Whenever Dada or I come in for a cheek kiss, you always turn your face so we get a wet, drooly, open-mouthed French kiss instead.

Your personality:  Um, awesome!  You make me want to have about twenty more babies.  Just kidding.  Maybe we should quit while we're ahead?  Anyway, you are smiley and sweet and rarely cry and I kind of want to cry myself when I think of how God gives you (as in me) exactly what you need when you need it.  After a very draining pregnancy and with a very rambunctious and energetic toddler I needed an easy baby.  
You are that, my love.
Yeah, I'm rolling.  What of it?
I love tummy time!!!
"How you doin'"
Your relationship with your big brother:  Still good.  Can we just keep it this way?  Before the fights and the screaming at each other set in???
You love to eat:  every couple hours during the day, and twice at night.  Still 98% breast milk, with an occasional bottle of formula if we have to.   I know we need to start giving you bottles more if we ever want to take a mama/dada weekend trip away from you (*really need it, yet want to cry just thinking about it*) but I just love feeding you so much (and hate pumping.) 
You sleep:    by the book!  You go to bed at a reasonable hour, and take consistent naps. Unfortunately, your longest stretch at night is usually only 6 hours.  We had one 8 hour stretch, but I think that was a fluke.  You go to bed usually between 7 and 8pm, and wake for your first feeding around 2am.  I am okay with this.  Still have not slept completely through the night yet, which surprises me, but I can't complain because when you wake up and eat you quickly fall back asleep.  Plus it is only 1-2 feedings per night, which is fine by me. (For now.)  The second feeding is usually between 5 and 6am and I just use that as my alarm clock and start my day.  You nap around 1-2 hours in the morning, and then again in the afternoon 1-3 hours.   This is around the same afternoon naptime as Cormac so I usually get a break, which I love.  If you take a short nap (only one hour) you may do another short late afternoon nap.  Otherwise we just put you to bed early.  Bedtime is between 7 and 8...whether you are asleep or not.  You typically will fall asleep on your own as long as I have done our wind-down routine and you have been awake at least 2 hours.
Although the last couple nights you have fought bedtime pretty hard.
"I hope my hair gets better.  Fo' real."

You love wearing:  Baby leggings and comfy cotton onesies...and pjs.  All of a sudden none of your clothes fit you.  Now you wear 3-6 month clothing or 6 month.  Nothing smaller.  My big girl!!! 
We call you:   Finola, Baby Fin, DIN-o-la (Cormac), Sister, and Girl
You love:  Your tummy time mat! You strain and twist to gaze at the mirror and all the fun hanging toys around you.Grabbing things.  My nose, my hair, your brother's hand, toys...whatever you can get your little mitts on.

Playing "Airplane!"  Big laughs whenever I make you soar above me.  And plenty of drool, too.
"I love flying!"
You look like: Mama. Even I think so.  Your long eyelashes and hair color are from your dada...but your big, buggy blue eyes come from your Gramma Gloria's side.  You've also got my nose, bald baby head and lips.

I love the faux mountain background here...and do you spy that I am wearing a ring? a baby ring!  was that an 80's baby trend?
We are like twins, right?
Mama feels:  Sleep-deprived!  Not having a full night's sleep in three months is taking it's toll.  

Your health/measurements:  
No appointment this month, but on my scale you weigh: 13.6 lbs   An increase in drool and spit bubbles may mean the beginnings of teething.  Noooo!  Your bro started the major drooling around this time, too.  You also had a stuffy nose/congestion (see below).

This Months' Memories:
  • Your cousin Emmie's 1st birthday!  I have no photos of this, but you were a sweet girl and were held by some very nice folks, who declared you a great baby.   She liked to crawl up to your bucket seat and grab your nose.  Yay for girl cousins!  (Oh, and your new cousin Selah was born, as well.  Future long-distance bestie?)
  • Your first cold.  Wasn't too bad, but we had to use the booger sucker quite a bit, which you are not a fan of.  Hey, I thought breastfeeding was supposed to give you some sore of super-immunity, or something like that?!?  Not so much. 
"Keep that booger sucker away from me!"
  • You rolled front to back!  At 10 weeks.  Well, I didn't actually see the first one.  I put you on your tummy time mat and ran to switch a load of laundry, and when I came back you were face up?!?!  Nice work, girl!  Here is a video your proud mama took of about the sixth roll:

And here are you and your brother at three months...I even put you on the same blanket to make you really look like twins siblings.   A lot of similarities there.  However, I do not think you are going to have his ginormous head.  But we shall see.

Well, my dear, we have had another lovely month together.  You are pretty much exactly like your brother - with less crying and more napping.  I'll take it.  Keep doing what you're doing.  You make us smile. We have great "conversations." All of this is good.  Love it.  Love you.
Mama + Dada

Thursday, August 15, 2013

{shopping with babies}

Here is what I have concluded after spending three days alone with Finola....
(the boy was with the grandparents, while hubby was out of town on business)

Girls are easier to shop with than boys.   Males simply must be born with an "I hate shopping" gene.  I remember trying to take Cormac to Ikea when he was about a month old.  They are really supposed to be easy at that point.  Really portable.  Fall asleep anywhere.  Love the car.  Yeah, none of that was true.  We got there and I tried to do a return and lets just say I ended up in tears, with a screaming baby.  Then as I tried to pull myself together and walk through the showroom, I had to stop about five times and try to shove a bottle in his mouth because he just wouldn't stop fussing/crying and, of course, hated the pacifier.

Two years later I take Finola to Ikea.  She is quiet the entire car ride and I am able to sing along to my iPod tunes with wild abandon.  We get to Ikea and I am able to get through doing a return and the entire showroom with her in the stroller and not a peep.  She just stared wide-eyed at everything.

We got halfway through the marketplace (if you have never shopped at Ikea you should know that both the showroom and the marketplace - two different levels - can take quite a while to get through) when she started to fuss, at which point I popped her in the Baby Bjorn front carrier.

Rest of the shopping visit, including making a purchase and lugging it out to the car, was a breeze.

I didn't shed one tear.  

 I am hoping this love of shopping continues.  I see much more of it in our future.  Girls gotta shop.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"kiss that belly" {goodbye!}

When I was pregnant my toddler would always come up to me, tug my shirt up and kiss my enormous pregnant belly.  This unsolicited affection always made my day, and made me daydream about how, once the baby was born, they would love each other.  You see, I viewed the kisses as his love for his future sibling, whom I would talk to him about constantly.
ready to pop.  yeah, that belly button will never be the same.
But I think I had it all wrong.

Now that I am not pregnant, and haven't been for almost three months, Cormac still kisses my tummy.  He will stand at my feet, point to it, and say urgently, "Kiss that belly!"  and will not move on until I have bent down, exposed a part of my belly, and let him plant one right on it.

Tears always fill my eyes.  But now for a different reason: because he loves me and my postpartum belly unconditionally.  Even if I don't love it.   Even though it makes me feel vulnerable and self-conscious.  Cormac knows nothing of those insecurities.

He only knows that that he loves me...and that "Din-ola came out of that belly!" 

+ + + + + + + 

Even though my toddler has unconditional love for his mama, extra belly fat or not, my feelings are another story.

A post-partum tummy is a sore spot (no pun intended) for many woman after they have had a baby (or two, or three...) and isn't necessarily something we want to expose.

My belly is not what it used to be.  After two pregnancies, even though I managed to elude any stretch marks, my belly button has been distorted, I still have the dark hormone line running down the middle and probably will for a few more months, the skin is looser and I have a layer of something (fat? skin?) over my abdomen that I refer to as my "mini spare tire."
8 weeks pregnant with baby two

I have begun the process of working on getting back to my pre-baby tummy.  I have been running, planking, doing crunches, etc.   I haven't started cutting calories yet, due to breastfeeding, but that will come eventually.

I'll admit, I was a little frustrated when I got pregnant unexpectedly -- just when I finally got my body back to where I was feeling really strong and fit again!

(you can read about my first post-pregnancy "belly journey" HERE}

Then I had to start all over - barely a year after having Cormac.   Actually, because I had worked so hard to get back into shape I started my second pregnancy in a really good spot - maybe in better shape than when I started my first pregnancy.  It also helped me to continue working out as much as possible while pregnant.

***If I can recommend anything to ladies intending to get pregnant, it is: get into the best shape that you can BEFORE you get pregnant -- and try to stick with it as long as you can during!  I can't tell you how much easier my recovery was this time and how much faster it was to get back into my pre-baby jeans.  No joke - huge difference.***

So here we go, folks.  Time to kiss the belly goodbye.  I'll share the six-weeks post-partum "before photos" when I have made some sort of real progress.

Until then, if anyone has any awesome ab exercises that helped you post-pregnancy-- I'd love to hear!

Monday, August 5, 2013

mama confessions : baby namin'

I knew when I chose my babies' names I would have some 'splainin' to do.  

I chose names that *most* people have never heard of, so when the question of "What did you name her?" comes up when I am out with the baby and a stranger starts oohing and ahhing over my babe, I always mentally prepare myself for the followup question of, "Where did you come up with that???"

Or, as my dear Gram Margaret asked when she heard my mom {her daughter} had named me 'Greta': "Where'd ya dig that one up?" (Nice, Gram!)

No, I did not "make up" the names Cormac and Finola.  They are pre-existing, real names that others have been named in the past.  You can Google them. :)

But why did we choose these names? (Well, I came up with them, and Hubby agreed to them. There were various others he did not agree to.)

Well, here is where we "dug them up..."  

Cormac comes from the author Cormac McCarthy.   A couple years before getting pregnant the first time an English teacher friend of mine turned me on to the book All the Pretty Horses (also a movie with Matt Damon) and I fell in love with the writing style.  Very masculine, yet romantic.  And I loved the name Cormac.  I had never heard it, and I thought it sounded very strong.  I also liked that it could be shortened to Mac, which I think is really cute for a boy.   I ran it by Hubby and he loved it, too...and it was more original than our backup boy name.  So...we had our name.

Finola comes from an actress named Finola Hughes.  That is where I originally heard it.  She was on my mom's favorite soap, General Hospital, back in the eighties.  Now, I never ever thought I would use the name Finola.  Actually, I had picked out another girl name since I was eleven-years-old that I thought I would use FOR SURE if I ever had a baby girl.  Then we got pregnant again and I started thinking I would really love a girl name that started with "F" since our last name is Ford.  After nixing "Fiona" because it reminded me too much of the movie Shrek, I remembered Finola.  I loved the fact that I have never met or heard of anyone else with that name.  I personally loved having a name that no one else had when I was growing up...it made me feel special/unique.  I thought Finola Ford sounded like a beautiful, strong name.   I also liked that it could be shortened to Fin or Nola - both of which I find cute.  (Ya know, if she prefers "cute" to "strong/distinctive.")  Then we added the middle name Wilder because I like having a little "literary flair" to my names.  This is, of course, after Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose books I devoured many times as a little girl.

So there you have it.  Of course, I only explain all this if someone asks.  Usually people just try to hide a strange look and and say politely, though not very convincingly, "Ohhhhh...I love it...."  and I just laugh inwardly because I think it is funny how people are uncomfortable with things they don't "get" or understand.  Or they think the name is ugly.  Which is okay by me.

Names are totally personal!  It doesn't hurt my feelings if people don't like mine.  I am pretty particular and only would consider really unique names.  There are lots of trendy names I think are super cute, but would never use just because of their popularity.   And there are trendy names that so many people use that I think are blah/not cute.  But who cares what other people think???

If you love it for your babe, that is what matters. :D  Plus,  your baby will grow up and make it their own - and you won't be able to imagine them named anything else.

So how did you pick the names for your little ones?  Any regrets?  Did you ever wish you had been named something else?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

simple things

I talked to my mother on the phone yesterday.
Since we live in different states and rarely see each other, 
I'll call her about once a week, and these phone calls are always pretty lengthy.
She, as always, filled me in on about a million things going on in their lives right now, and the lives of my three siblings.

(Biggest news!  My sister is just about to have her 4th baby!!!! Beyond excited!)

Talking to my mom on the phone is always fun...
and such a comfort.

But, yesterday when it came my turn to share about my life...
I didn't have much to say!
Life is quiet and uneventful right now.
I like that.

Just learning about my two kiddos,
and slowly adjusting to life
as a family of four.

Here are some recent photos from the camera...

+ + + + + + +

My limelight hydrangea bush finally bloomed!

These black-eyed susans came with the house...and I love them.

Sunshine in messy blonde hair.

More golden loveliness...

Baking brownies ended up being a messy idea - but he loved it! 
{and I just got that Virginia Woolf quote print - just need a frame!)

And here is my little tummy time princess!

I don't think I could adore that little face more.
"I love tummy time!"

There are those kind blue eyes I love - trying to master the train whistle.